'ADD economy' makes marketers' jobs harder

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Breaking through the clutter is further complicated by trying to reach an audience that, figuratively, has attention-deficit disorder.

That's what keynote speaker Peter Weedfald, Samsung Electronics' senior VP-consumer electronics and North American corporate marketing, told AdWatch attendees, calling today's world "the ADD economy."

Mr. Weedfald delivered a colorful, at times offbeat address, part Jack Welch-speaking passionately about the advances Samsung has made-and part Robin Williams. "Peter, did you really just say that?" he'd say to himself after a controversial remark, or, rambling about new technologies he'd blurt, "Wi-Fi, hi-fi, schmi-fi ... whatever."

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS

At times, he was part Dr. Phil. While apologizing for using attention-deficit disorder as an example, Mr. Weedfald said it was a relevant comparison. "Consumers, customers, friends, neighbors, colleagues ... nobody has the time to concentrate any more."

Saying that CRM actually stands for "Customers Really Matter," Mr. Weedfald drew upon a mental image of the kitchen of his youth, saying it was the ugliest, dirtiest room in the house because it was the most used. Today, he said, it is the most pristine.

"Meaning: People eat out all the time," he said. "So how the hell do they absorb all this media that we're spending all this money on? There's too much messaging, too many choices, too much advertising."

Mr. Weedfald said that one of the ways Samsung has broken through is by relying less on TV for the introduction of its estimated 180 product launches per year. As a result, Samsung has a heavy presence on the Internet. "We start with the Internet. What that has done has turned our business into a distribution channel."

Samsung is also back in the product-placement genre as well with the 20th Century Fox expected summer blockbuster "The Fantastic Four." Samsung's TV spots were shot as the movie was being filmed, instead of after the completion of the picture, to better integrate the company.

But Samsung's previous foray into movies, with Warner Bros. "The Matrix Reloaded" in 2003, was a $100 million campaign that most marketing experts said was a flop. This time, Mr. Weedfald said he's waiting until July 8, the day "Fantastic Four" opens, to begin Samsung's advertising.

"My goal, and I love 20th Century Fox, is not to drive `Fantastic Four' but to drive Samsung," he said. "In my humble opinion, in the ADD economy you have to say your name with a little more vim and vigor. That's No.1."

And No. 2? "We could get rolled over as a company on `Fantastic Four.' If we're not careful ... we'll get run over."

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